Dewhurst’s fatal mistake
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Dewhurst has no business being behind the eight-ball in this race. His campaign should have wiped the floor with Ted Cruz.
In late January, Cruz’s name ID was 40%. All Dewhurst had to do was stay with his message–that is, touting his record as a conservative light guv and basically ignoring Cruz. That’s when his campaign made the fatal mistake: On February 1, it hired Dave Carney. What kind of consultant is Carney? He’s an attack dog. Dewhurst ultimately went on the offensive with the China ad. It was very effective. It hurt Cruz, but it helped in even morem by raising Cruz’s name ID, which was around 40% at the time. That was the last thing Dewhurst wanted. The Dewhurst campaign stayed on the attack, including a late spot accusing Cruz of favoring amnesty, which had little credibility. The amnesty attack ad was so overdone that it caused Dewhurst to lose ground in the days before the primary. In effect, Carney’s tactics handed the initiative to Cruz.
Dewhurst should have stuck to his record. He could make a great positive case for himself. (If Cruz ever ran a positive spot, I never saw it.) Instead, he put his campaign in the hands of someone whose most recent credit was the failed Perry presidential campaign. All that got Dewhurst was an endorsement from Perry that hung a sign around Dewhurst’s neck labeled “establishment candidate.” Perry’s performance in the presidential race was evidence that Carney wasn’t the grand strategist he was reputed to be. (Remember, he worked for Craddick, too, in 2008, and didn’t have much to show for it either.)